Families spend upto 12 percent of their income to send their children to private tuitions, revealed the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). The reason is because the parents want to “augment basic education”. Nearly a quarter of the student population or 7-odd crore go to off-school tutorials. One thing is sure: Formal education in schools exists, but it does not deliver.
Both the well-heeled and the poor are into this as the survey revealed, and 89 percent of the surveyed said they were augmenting what was being taught in schools. It is not so much about the student being bad in his studies, but supplementing what the schools taught. In the past, those who regularly failed in a subject, or were weak in it, took tuitions for a leg up, often offered by a neighbour who knew the subject.
The link between tuitions and monetary gains for the teachers was obvious, especially before the 5th or 6th pay commission scales. There was an implicit belief that a teacher tutoring his or her own student outside the school for a fee may mean there could be a tendency to give the student better marks to retain the credibility as a tutor. That is why they were banned from private tuitions. That set in motion the new industry: Private coaching classes.
It is one of these coaching classes, which was forgiven by a parent for stripping his two children, six and seven year olds respectively and made to stand outside a tutorial to discipline them because “it is a competitive age. How will children learn if not disciplined?” He was willing to scar the children, who were believed to be so bad in school that they needed extra help to pass with some modest marks. They were not even aiming for a seat in the IITs or medical colleges.
But the competitive age has spawned a whole new industry of coaching classes attended by the four percent of the surveyed, as it was required for exams for jobs or other educational institutes, including the IITs, medical and engineering colleges, where a student may miss out a seat because of a mere difference of 0.1 percent in marks. The level of competition has increased with the number of colleges.
In their anxiety to push a child into professions the parent want, regardless of the aptitude, which actually may never have been tested, they send them off to coaching classes. The child is subjected to a life of mental rigour which can also sap them physically. There are fees to be paid in lakhs, and children are often sent to coaching classes away from their home towns and are forced live in shared apartments, without even minimal parental supervision. Such children are at a loss in an alien environment.
For instance, Latur, Kota are tutorial hubs where auxiliary businesses have emerged for rentals, maids to clean and cook. Of late, suicides have been reported because of various reasons, including separation anxiety of the kids. In 2015, some students, attending in tutorials in Kota, were reported to have taken their own lives. Not all those who manage to survive the stress may make it to IITs or good engineering or medical colleges. And statistics would reveal that barely 3-4 percent get to their chosen institutions.
In the past few years, coaching classes have tied-up with junior colleges with the students attending the former, while also appearing for the junior colleges exams, thus "saving" two scholastic years. Attendance is cooked up and the parents pay the tutorials upto Rs 5 lakhs a year. There hardly has been a murmur about this because it "benefits" everyone.
The tragedy in all this is the clear discounting of formal education in formal institutions which fosters merit, but is left to the tutorials who may help one become successful enough to get a seat, but as far as traditional learning is concerned, the students will be at a loss. Tutorials are a testament to the fact that the formal system exists, but it has given up.
To get to these institutions, children forgo their pleasures of adolescence and its charms, and sit in private coaching classes to learn by rote and importantly, how to crack the competitive exams. There’s a method, which may or may not stand in good stead once they enter the IITs and medical colleges. There, they flounder because by then they had weakened on lectures and application.
But isn’t it a fact that the coaching class industry pushed the bar up and make their presence all the more a requirement so that a hopeful student could be sent to them? It just can’t be that a student who has to have 12 years of schooling cannot get into an IIT or medical or engineering college without the involvement of a coaching class.